At this point I have received more “free” T-shirts than I have purchased.
One of these shirts has my face on it, flattering I know, but I must admit is a little weird wearing, particularly on some smelly Sunday, a random showerless Saturday, those Quasimodo Mondays wherein these (S)cotton renderings of my mug barely resemble my actual state of face. The shirt is from the the Urban Arts Festival 2009 held outside the State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ featuring me, the other two Mayhem Poets and the delightfully talented North Carolina based poet and educator Glenis Redmond.
Now many of these so-called “free” t-shirts came at a cost, a cost far greater than I’d ever probably spend on a sole shirt. Usually as part of an an event; let’ say a 5k mud race, an Oprah walkathon in less than 30 degrees, a Planet Fitness Black Card gym membership-each ranging anywhere from $50-$100 to participate.
Typically these shirts sit in my dresser unseen, buried beneath a selection of shirts I rock on the regular. Often these Polyester Prynnes are too large to sport fashionably, ostracized from the rest of my wardrobe with their XL and XXL markings never to see the light of neck. In fact, on occasion these inside-outcasts make their way into my laundry basket without ever being worn. A pitiful and futile existence of dresser to hamper to machine to dresser.
Other shirts I am required to wear for work:
- a Wintuk T-Shirt to promote the Cirque de Solei Show at Madison Square Garden
- a brown Drama Zone Tee I once wore to teach five-year-olds soccer
- a CNN Anderson Cooper 360 long sleeve blue shirt
- a bright orange Zog Sports shirt to play volleyball for the clown babies every Sunday Night throughout NYC ($100 to join the league with all proceeds going to charity)
- a Witness MVP shirt I received at the Cleveland Cavaliers game when Lebron James was crowned Most Valuable Player (Round One playoff tickets costing $75/ticket)
- a Run-A-Muck shirt given to me at the finish line of the 5k mud run in Harriman State Park (~$50 to run the race; plus parking)
Still others I received while on the road:
- an Emerald High School power purple shirt (with matching hat) from Nashville Tennessee
- a South Carolina state flag shirt, given as a gift to us from a group of teachers who took us out to dinner downtown
- a Tim Horton’s presents the International Children’s Festival in St Albert, Alberta Canada
- a 2010 Bloomington Diversity Day T from a Minnesota visit to Kennedy and Jefferson High Schools
- a Lindenwood University; Sibley Day for Justice and Peace shirt (an event we performed at 30 minutes before Mahatama Ghandi’s grandson gave a lecture. Ghandi’s grandson drew hundreds, we drew tens)
- a New Victory Theater shirt from when Mayhem Poets performed a run of shows at the prestigious family theater in Time Square,
- my RCPC presents William Shakespeares Twelfth Night with a “Scott as Toby Belch” emblazoned on the back.
- a 2010 green Omaha Summer Arts Festival the same color as the house I grew up in
And finally while on my most recent Jamaican Vacation
- a coveted VIC (Very Important Couple T) for attending Couples Resort in Negrille Jamiaca two years in a row and counting
I already have a different ‘free T’ for every day of the week. Perhaps one day I’ll get to a t-shirt for every-day of the year, but either way thank you to all of the above mentioned places and establishments for allowing me to not walk around bare-chested through your city and for giving me a few extra days of clean clothes while on the road.